DeVos bought herself a cabinet position today

Betsy DeVos. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/Getty)
Betsy DeVos. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/Getty)

I am absolutely sick that Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Education. With our public education system in dire need of new, competent leadership, the Republicans nevertheless succeeded in confirming a woman who has never attended a public school, taught in one, or sent her kids to one. And if you listened to any of her confirmation hearings, you know she’s not the sharpest crayon in the box. Never made it into the box at all. Based on several reports, it seems highly likely that she bought the position with generous donations to a lot of key Republicans. To their everlasting credit, Maine’s Susan Collins (R) and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski (R) voted against her. The vote in the Senate was a tie and Vice-President Spence cast the deciding vote.

I heard this evening that Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie (R) has introduced  a new bill to abolish the Department of Education, so maybe the joke’s on her after all. We probably couldn’t do any worse by returning control of the schools to the states; they haven’t exactly flourished under US government control.

From The Hill:

Massie believes that policymakers at the state and local levels should be responsible for education policy, instead of a federal agency that’s been in place since 1980.

“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students,” Massie said in a statement.

Makes good sense to me, but admittedly I am a few years removed from involvement in our public schools.


25 thoughts on “DeVos bought herself a cabinet position today

    1. I would say that’s the only way she could possibly have gotten the position, but then I look at who’s president and realize anything is possible. We need some sort of IQ or EQ test, or both, for people seeking high office in Washington.

  1. She most absolutely did. I knew Pence was going to ‘Aye’ her. He’s one of Trump’s lackeys. Pence wouldn’t dare voting against Donald. Can you imagine what Trump would do if Pence had said ‘No’? His first reaction would be to fire him – but that’s not an option. Then he’d get on Twitter and say some horrific hateful things about Pence.

    RE: a new bill to abolish the Department of Education:
    My first reaction was ‘Noooooo!’ But then I read that up until 1980 the schools/education was managed at a state level. You know, that my not be such a bad idea. I went to public schools and they were all great schools. Quality teachers, curriculum, etc. It’s not like that anymore. So many other things have changed, too, so unsure if going back to the states would be a wise decision at this time. All these damn tests! Is there still a teacher’s union?

    Anyway, I’ll have to think up on that more. Cannot believe that I’m actually considering a bill written by a Republican.

    1. My reaction was similar to yours. Thought it was a horrible bill until I saw the 1980 date. There certainly hasn’t been any notable improvement since then. All I’ve seen is lower and lower standards in an effort to graduate more and more students (educated or not) so that the schools can qualify for more money. Being able to pass tests is not being educated. Yes, there’s still a teacher’s union. And here in the Denver metro they are very powerful.

      “Back in the day” I went to public schools and graduated from public universities. I think I got a fine education.

      Of course it could be that with the proper administration, the Dept. of Education could change and do a fine job. I doubt the solution is as simple as just abolishing the department.

  2. This is what happens when I try to access your post for today. I left a message on your prior post.

    Mary…a loyal reader

    Sent from my iPad


    1. I saw your previous comment (and replied) and now this one. I assume this comment means you can now see this post about DeVos?

      (I did find this comment being held for moderation and find no reason for why that happened. I’ve checked everything I can think of and see no reason for it having happened unless it was your change in IP. The WP filters may not have recognized you. In any case, I’m sorry for the inconvenience.)

  3. One of the chances I get to resist saying, “I told you so last time around.” Remember Ron Paul’s list of agencies that should be eliminated? And Energy being one that is now headed by another dull crayola named Rick Perry who attempted to parrot (repeat) Ron Paul’s list during their debates. I just have to laugh because nothing is going to change until those who really believe we’re going to Hell in a hand basket join an organized effort to impeach this clown.

    Besides, having an administrator who hasn’t been indoctrinated by the current failed system might just turn out to be a good thing. If you have kids or great grand kids in my case who need help with their homework, you might know what I mean. In todays algebra the value of x isn’t as important has the fact that you tried to figure it out. Oh, and using the mandated protocol for doing so.

    1. It’s all extraordinarily depressing. If DeVos can get approved as Sec. of Education, I’ve no doubt an old pol like Sessions will easily win approved as AG. The GOP wouldn’t even let Sen. Warren speak against him. They cut her off! What’s the point of hearings if the opposition isn’t allowed to speak?

      Fortunately I’ve not been asked by the grandkids to help them with their homework. Especially math. I struggled mightily to get through the required two years of high school algebra and never entered another math classroom. Besides they don’t teach math the same way anymore, as you pointed out. I’m surprised they can get the kids to work through it at all when they all have cellphones.

      Sure, if DeVos can help our failing public education system, power to her. But simply trying to get all our kids vouchered into private schools is NOT the answer. Or maybe her filthy rich self is planning to pay for all those private schools out of her own pocket?

      1. There are places where public funding for all primary school student follows the student. Students in families of all income levels are equally able to exploit the best available school.

        The argument against universal vouchers is predicated on the assumption that funding for public schools will be diminished by the value of a voucher. Actually, the only loser with universal vouchers would be under-performing schools.

        And as we all should know, competition in the public work force is frightening for the teachers union which protects it’s members against sanctions (or any kind) for malfeasance.

        1. So our tax money must support both public schools and the vouchers for private schools? I’m going to have to read your linked article very carefully to understand how that works. Way back in 2008 I wrote “School vouchers: I still don’t understand,” and I still don’t. Seems to me we’ll all have to pay more taxes to support both public schools and vouchers; otherwise those public schools abandoned by voucher-holders will die for lack of attendance. I continue to believe that good neighborhood schools are the best solution. Giving an inner city kid a voucher to a private school in the suburbs, for example, doesn’t consider how he’s supposed to get there. Give him a good school in his own neighborhood. Don’t make it more difficult for him to get to school.

          As for teachers unions, I’ve never liked unions, period. And I really don’t like the teachers unions that make it impossible to get rid of bad teachers.

          1. The way I read it, all students have a voucher and it doesn’t matter where they use it. As I read it, public schools (as well as private schools) all derive their operating expenses via the vouchers that accompany their students.

          2. I’m confused by several things. For example, isn’t “government-funded private school” an oxymoron? A school is either publicly or privately funded. It isn’t private if it’s govt funded. And what about distribution? How do you allow school choice and vouchers and still ensure that you don’t get too many students in some schools (the better ones) and too few in others (the failing schools)? And doesn’t government funding of private schools mean my tax dollars are supporting both public and private schools, even if my child doesn’t go to private school?

          3. As far as traveling to a more distant (but better) school, it’s an additional, personal price you have to pay if you’re faced with a pitiful nearby school.

            Point of fact – one of my children was going to be bused to a predominately black, under achieving school about 20 miles distant even though we had recently bought a house two blocks from an adequate, and barely integrated, elementary school. I moved the whole family 35 miles further away from Houston and the one affected child as well as her two older brothers all benefited from the small independent school district’s performance. I paid cash for my kids vouchers.

          4. Our story was similar, except rather than move we opted to pay tuition at a private school about a mile away. There were no vouchers in OKC. We paid the full tuition while continuing to pay taxes to support the public schools.

          5. A lot of those private schools are parochial schools, thus a bedrock of our democracy–separation of church and state–clearly would be violated by a universal voucher system. Why should any of my tax dollars go to schools teaching a religion I do not agree with, or teaching any religion? The universal voucher idea is outrageous.

          6. Gabby: And yet you have no problem with people personally paying for their children to be educated in private schools while simultaneously paying for public schools which they do not use.

            Talk about outrageous.

            Pied: When I said I paid cash for my kids vouchers, I really only meant that I paid additional money to get my kids a better education… moving expenses.

          7. I’m with Gabby on this. I paid simultaneously for private school (secular) and public school. That was a personal choice. There should be absolutely no mixing of religion into public schools, nor govt. support of parochial or private schools with public tax money.

            @Ima Yes, that’s the way I took it. We both paid, just in different ways. You paid to move, I paid tuition.

          8. When you’re paying for the education of a student, I don’t see what difference it makes where he or she spends it. Just because a student chooses a private school doesn’t mean that an additional student is created. The number of students along with added costs aren’t increased because of universal vouchers.

            Of course I can see why a radical Muslim wouldn’t want you spending your educational voucher at a Christian school. Do radical Christians have the same problem?

            Don’t forget… “In God We Trust” – “One Nation Under God” – Separation? Seriously?

          9. Apparently I’m getting too old to follow long comment threads here. Can’t tell if you’re addressing me or Gabby.

            It matters where the voucher is used; a state-funded voucher should only be valid at a state-funded public school. If it’s valid at a parochial school, then the state is helping to fund religion. Separation, absolutely. Seriously.

  4. I’m all for the states running the education, the proviso? Children in say Washington State, get the same education as those in Washington DC, children in Texas get the same as the children in New York State; you get the idea.

    And keep the churches right out of it, let them have their parochial schools, so long as the parents who send their children there, pay for their children to go, but state finance? No way! Keep them right out!

    1. I agree all kids should get the same education, but in an effort to do that here we’ve inadvertently diluted the education the kids get. In order to make sure they all get the same education, they are constantly tested. So the teachers end up focusing more on teaching the kids how to do well on tests rather than actually learning the material. If the kids don’t do well on the tests, the schools lose funding and it reflects on the teachers. So kids get promoted even when they shouldn’t be, because the schools and teachers have to promote and graduate a good percentage of kids in order to look good, blah, blah, blah. The original intent was good but schools are actually now doing a worse job of educating our kids. At least that’s my impression of what’s been happening. Someone with kids in public school right now could probably explain it better.

      Religion in public schools is a whole other topic. Suffice to say religion belongs in church and parochial schools, not public schools.

  5. Couldn’t the same thing happen at the state level though? Someone could buy there way into a position of power within the state and make descions for all schools in the state. I know there is no perfect solution but we have to work to find a good one. Thanks for the post.

    1. Of course it could. Anytime, any place in any government, people can potentially buy their way in. State-level government is no better or worse than any other, nor are state bureaucrats. But yes, we owe it to our kids, the next generation, our future leaders, to keep working to find the best possible system. Few things are more important.

... and that's my two cents